Six months after he wondered whether his career might be over, Sussex's Rory Hamilton-Brown produced the best innings of his fledgling career and one which might keep Sussex in the First Division.
The 22-year-old is one of a handful of county players who bats in glasses after doctors diagnosed a stigmatism which causes tiny cysts to form on his eyes. The problem got so bad during the winter Hamilton-Brown cut short a trip to Perth where he had been playing club cricket. Eye specialists in London conducted exhaustive tests for cancer before discovering that the cysts were benign but contact lenses did not work.
Perhaps the most famous bespectacled cricketer was David Steele, whose plod to the crease during the mid-1970s, when England were getting roughed up by the West Indies quicks, was famously likened to that of a "bank clerk going to war".
Like Steele, Hamilton-Brown wears steel-rimmed specs but the similarities between him and the former Northamptonshire blocker end there. Yesterday, in only his seventh first-class match, he took the attack to Yorkshire in thrilling fashion, scoring 101 runs before lunch on his way to an undefeated 171.
By the end it was the Yorkshire bowlers who must have thought they were seeing double. Against the spinners in particular, Hamilton-Brown was eye-catching both in the use of his feet and the power of his strokes, particularly through the off side where he scored the majority of his boundaries.
He shared stands of 128 in 32 overs with Murray Goodwin and 99 in 23 with Andrew Hodd before Sussex lost their last five wickets for 56 runs.
Left-arm spinner David Wainwright came in for some harsh treatment from Hamilton-Brown but he picked up his maiden five-wicket haul to help restrict Yorkshire's deficit to 45. Hamilton-Brown departed to a standing ovation, having faced 210 balls and hit 20 fours and two sixes, both off Wainwright.
By the close Yorkshire were 102 in front, having so far resisted the forensic probing of leg-spinner Piyush Chawla.Reuse content